Friday, December 28, 2012

Santa's Sticky Fingers

We kept with tradition this year, drew names, Santa filled stockings and Superman and I provided the always expected the Christmas Eve pyjamas ....

So I thought it a little odd that Madison the Middle was up super late wrapping gifts on Christmas Eve...Awww isn't she thoughtful, I thought as I climbed into bed long before her...

Christmas morning we woke up to a basket full of oddly shaped wrapped gifts eclipsing the tree...

"I have to go first Maddie proclaimed!" As she proceeds to hand each person their labeled prize. With a Grinch type grin she says ... Now open them....

With slight bewilderment ....

"Hey I wondered were that went?!?!"

"So it was you?!?"

"Very funny Maddie ,"

Our sticky-fingered Santa had wrapped up my slippers, a unopened DVD superman had been looking for for days, Alex's favourite hoodie and so on....

Maddie thought she was hilarious ....who's kid is she anyways....

Crying on Christmas

Its. Almost. Christmas. Mom! Aren't you excited? My vibrating man child says as he bounces from couch to couch in the living room. SURE?!? I muster as I silently wish (maybe not) he'd choke on his candy cane, I swear I had told him 25 minutes earlier he couldn't have.

Why can't we just skip this Christmas, I'm really not feeling it this year.....

A few days before we sit in a doctors office, trying to decide the next course of treatment for an illness, despite all our efforts refuses to stay in check...No quick fixes and side affects limiting many other options, one option given down right scary...I leave in tears feeling down right defeated. What are we supposed to do?

Why??? Is Christmas time always so hard? We are supposed to be happy, grateful, joyful...

The grief of being an "orphan" only compounds my heartache. I am grateful my parents are at peace, but I can't explain how much I miss them, how much I would give for one more phone call, one more Merry Christmas....One more time hearing my Dad play Silent Night on his guitar or my mom accompany the Alleluia chorus on the organ....

The music of the season brings both comfort and heartache....

From December first I'm on auto-pilot going through the motions, doing what we do. I refuse to let myself feel anything for fear I'll simply lose it. The shopping gets done, the cookies are made and all the family traditions happen and I feel nothing...I see happy ,"perfect", your-parents-are still- alive families all around me and it just makes me angry. Why didn't I have that? I'm not even doing so well with coping with the husband and teenagers I do have.

Despite all my wishing and praying Christmas morning still comes (dang-it). My kids are bouncing off the walls with excitement...And I feel nothing. Christmas and grief and an audience, feeling nothing is easier...

That afternoon Superman heads to work and everybody else is down for a long winter's nap. The house is still and dark, except for the lights of the Christmas tree...I sit by the tree... tears run down my cheeks before I even realise I'm crying...The heartaches of this difficult year flood my mind....for the first time all month I let myself feel the sadness, the grief  and the tears flow freely....

 I was reminded of a newspaper article, my cousin had shared the week prior....Called the Healing Powers of the Dalai Lama

A man from Utah shares his experience in meeting His Holiness...


Looking intently at the couple that had joined us that morning, and with no visible cue from anyone he said, "You are sad."
Our new friends broke down. Through gentle sobs, they explained their young son had recently committed suicide. A pause hung in the air. The Dalai Lama simply waited. And waited.

As we muffled sobs, His Holiness slid across the couch and reached for the couple’s faces. Grasping their cheeks, he pulled their faces next to his. He held them for perhaps a minute, an eternity for such an intimacy. And then he said — softly, simply — "sad." He offered no other words, no assurance of heaven, as we Westerners have come to expect when dissecting death. He explained nothing. There was no utterance of "time heals," no nicety that "God needed him elsewhere." Nothing.
 
There is goodness in letting the pain flow and of not explaining away another’s grief. In allowing for "sad."
 
 
It was good to cry and not talk myself  out of it. Sad, even on Christmas is okay. After I sat there for a very long time, the tears stopped and the thought came. "It wont always be this hard. Don't give up just yet. There is joy ahead, I promise"....
 
 
 
 
 
 

Monday, December 24, 2012

Hillbilly Sledding

 
Its snowed quite a bit this week, unusual for here...And my rug rats and Superman took full advantage of it...
 
Proof that Mom's and Dad's parent differently.
 
 
 
My idea of safety....
 
 
 
A superman with teenagers idea of safety when left unsupervised....
 
I'm taking the kids sledding...
 
Hilly billy sledding...minus the quad (ATV) and the common sense...I guess us Islanders lose our minds when we see a little snow.... (a deserted parking lot) (A tradition started in Raymond :)
No one got hurt and they had a blast! And I wonder why Grant is the favourite parent.

Wednesday, December 19, 2012

Thanks A Lot Santa!!!!

So Bailey was saved from the dreaded Santa shoot, by getting called into work at the last minute...The rest were forced to endure the torture :)....
We had asked the kids to put on a nice sweater...As we were walking into the mall, we noticed Dallyn was in just a t-shirt..."Dallyn, were is your sweater???" asked Superman "I don't need one, it's not cold" Man child responds. (there is 6 " of snow on the ground and the wind was blowing)
 
It's not about the cold, its about looking good for the picture?!? comes the reprimand.
 
To which our genius responds...
 
Well, that's ok, I even look good NAKED!!!!
(I'm a little worried about that boy :/)
 
to which Superman says...
 
Well let's not freak out Santa, shall we! 
 At least Dallyn kept his clothes on !?! :)

We always run into the "wow, you have so many kids! thing" (kay we don't have THAT many kids...Duggers yes, us NO) So this is the best shot we could get with 4 ginormous teenagers. And Honestly I didn't really care about the photo...

I wanted the kids to thank a mall Santa, thus tying it into our acts of kindness.(the kids thought I was crazy, "It's awkward!!!") Even better :)  So ....The kids bought a box of Chocolates and a card and each wrote messages ....And handed this to Santa before the picture...
 
Santa said it made his day , and that nobody had ever done that before...he even sent the photographer down the mall to find us, and asked for our return address...
 
The kids were so surprised that such a small gesture got the response it did...
 
A little bit of kindness goes along way!


Dallyn loves Santa 2001
Favourite Santa picture of all times!!!!

Tuesday, December 18, 2012

Mental Illness- Our Story

My heart broke, along with the world,  as I watched news coverage of the Connecticut school shooting, Friday...It was the first time the news had brought me to tears since 9-11. I can't even pretend to understand the gravity of that kind of heart ache and loss. It makes no sense and it never will. My heart simply aches for all those affected by this.

It was only an hour or so into the coverage that I heard what I knew was coming...the news media attributing these horrific actions  to mental illness, my heart sank even more...

While I have deep and profound convictions about gun control and public safety and the issues surrounding this specific event, I choose not to discuss them here. Nor do I intend to compare our experiences in any way with this overwhelming tragedy.

But with all the talk of mental illness, I feel compelled to share something deeply personal to us. Many know, Mental Illness has profoundly affected our lives and family. But most do not know the journey to diagnosis or the battle for care...

My mom and my superman were diagnosed within a few years of each other with the same illness (albeit: type one and type two) Two lives affected by the same illness in profoundly different ways ...Diagnosis brought relief, fear and an overwhelming heartbreak for a still young daughter and wife....Its still something more than a decade after diagnosis I am trying to wrap my brain around.

Diagnosis.

From her late teens, Mom's life had been racked with unexplained episodes of odd behaviour, debilitating lows and "I can conquer the world highs...It wasn't until our late teens Kelli and I knew something just wasn't right with her. But what???  Nobody put the pieces together until after Kelli and I had left home...

My sweetheart and Superman had dealt with debilitating (undiagnosed) depression through out his teen years, but it wasn't until he broke his back at work, a decade later that the wheels came off. A combination of pain killer addiction and antidepressants brought out his first understood manic episode and months later, a correct, but unwanted diagnosis.

Navigating the mental health world is overwhelming and daunting at best, even in a country with universal health care...

The crisis almost always comes before the care.

Seeking Help

I know what its like trying to convince a delusional loved one that what they are seeing, hearing and feeling are not reality.

I know what its like to lock down meds and anything else that could be harmful.

I know what its like to call the crisis hot line for help and be told calling the police is the only option, and then having to call them.

I know what it's like to find loved-ones after a suicide attempts and think "I hope this is bad enough for admission this time"

I know what its like to beg a doctor "Please just don't send them home"

I know what its like to sign papers and commit a loved one to a psych facility against their wishes.

I know what its like when a loved one passes a competency test over and over again, and our hand are tied to do anything else.

I know what its like to go thru 7 psychiatrist before we found one that we could work with.

Treatment.

I know what its like to be told by family members "you know if you could just be a little more patient and listen more...they wouldn't be like that"

I know what its like to have a well meaning albeit completely uneducated Church leader tell me meds weren't really necessary.

I know what its like to have an employer show up at our door, during a hospitalisation and tell me "I won't have people like that working for me"

I know what its like to be the "talk of Church" or the "Talk of town" or the subject of meetings.

I know what it's like to have my grade schooler come home in tears and then have to explain that their loving father is NOT "a basket case" even though someone called him that at school.

I know what it's like to hear "but I thought he was better?"

I know what its like to feel hopeless, overwhelmed, misunderstood, abandoned...BUT

Our New Reality.

Here's what we have learned.....

There is hope.

We can never give up on seeking HELP. Real HELP. If someone doesn't understand or isn't helpful move on. But keep seeking.

We have had to come to accept that we deal with an illness every day that requires the intervention of  medication and professionals and friends and family.

A competent, knowledgeable psychiatrist is essential. We LOVE the one we have now. If you don't like the first or second or third, keep going until you find one you LOVE...they exist, I promise.

Have at least one friend and one family member you can completely confide in, who can and will drop everything and run, who loves you and your loved one, unconditionally. My life has been profoundly blessed by these individuals who have known just when to call, stop by, reach out...Understanding, empathetic people do exist, usually they are the one who have faced mental illness in their own families.

Be HONEST...with yourself, your loved ones and those around...I am a gate keeper of sorts. I say no to things, cancel activities, monitor meds, if something is worrying or not right, I speak up. I tell people what we need and ask for help until I get it.

Pray. Like a lot. And no if you pray or have FHE or go to Church or read your scriptures more , your illness is going nowhere, trust me we have tried...being MORE righteous or religious will not cure anything...But I do find great peace by seeking guidance from a loving Heavenly Father.

And here is my biggest beef, misconception....Mental illness excuses actions and behaviour... I cringe every time....

Truth: Mental Illness does not automatically absolve us from all responsibility of behaviour, self care, the Golden Rule, family responsibilities, the 10 commandments, and on and on.

Access to and seeking competent care provides hope for the best possible outcome.

One would not deny a friend or loved one help for diabetes or cancer or... The same needs to be said for Mental Illness.




























Sunday, December 16, 2012

Christmas Kindness Continued

So the Christmas kindness continues...It's been a little rough this week as some personal challenges have weighed heavily on us...but focusing on others has been an AWESOME distraction...I smell a family tradition that will stick here...Wish we would have started this years before....

7. Made stockings for the Sister Missionaries


8.Sparkling Cider for friends
http://networkedblogs.com/FKXfT

the picture won't let me post....but these guys teach all of our kids in either Seminary or YW and I know my rug rats can drive anyone to drink ;)




9. Made a laminated nativity set for friends.
my kids are too young for this...so I found kids who would love it.



10. Baby Quilts

Two quilts one mom has impeccable taste in little boy names and the other mom brought her precious princess home from NICU last week (A...its in the mail tomorrow, I promise this time :))

11. Took flowers to a friends. (love, love, love these guys, like crazy ;))

12. Smiled and said Merry Christmas to every cashier/sales person I could.
kay, I admit, a slight cop out, but I am always so sad when I see how cranky people are to retail workers, especially at Christmas time.


13. Sent a sincere email, thanking my amazing cousin and his family

14. 10 handmade bags for Grants management team at work.


 
 
15. Paid for the people behind us in the drive-thru at Dairy Queen.
 
 
we ended up having to pull over to wait for our order , so the person behind us, came up and thanked us profusely..."Thanks so awesome, I'll pay it forward...I promise..." Her reaction made us both cry...
 
Just over a week to go...should be awesome.


Wednesday, December 12, 2012

Fast Food Circus

So we took the rug rats to Mc Donald's for dinner tonight, cause like yeah,starving your children is highly frowned upon, especially during the holidays :) Please don't judge me. It was a step up from the cereal they had last night and the tater-tots (just tater-tots) I think they had the night before. :)

We didn`t even have our stater child with us and the person taking our order still gave us `that look`....Our superman had to walk away as each rug rat meticulously special ordered their Mc-whatever. No pickles, add bacon, no mustard.....
As Grant and I finish our marathon order ....Madison and Dallyn come back up to the til, to announce that Dallyn had somehow spilt his ENTIRE coke (no he isn`t supposed to get coke) all over the table (something about Madison tripping him...)

We return to our table to discover instead of cleaning up the mess, my brilliant offspring had simply moved tables....`They have people for that`M and D say in unison....You made the mess, you clean it up, both of you...47 napkins later....

We scarf down dinner with only a few `leave each other alone, don`t steal her fries`

Then out of the corner of my eye I see Dallyn drop his last chicken nugget on the floor....

He gets a twinkle in his eye as I say `Don`t you dare eat that!``...

He blows on it and pops it in his mouth, quicker than I can knock it out of his hand...and then savours every morsel, as I fight my ever-present gag reflex....What are you three !!!!

Boys are so gross...

Then three minutes later Dallyn is sitting on Madison`s knee and some how falls off and smacks his head on the chair...Now man child is fighting back tears....

OH MY HECK!!!!

I thought we had out grown these, fast food gross outs, freak-outs, like ten years ago....

Nope, apparently not....

It was time to go, before the asked us too.

On the way home, the rug rats discovered the new van has voice activation and all were yelling out (inapporperate) anatomy parts, to see what happens...oh my little angels

And they wonder why, we leave them at home :)


Tuesday, December 11, 2012

Anger (Well Yes I Is)


This last week....

Superman: surprised me with the news that Grandma will be here for Christmas....

-worked more than sixty hours getting ready for the Super centre grand opening....

-emceed the grand opening

and....

Some how, even though we volunteered for nothing, our family ended up putting in hours of service for a Christmas dinner. It's tough when original plans fall through. Our teenagers were less then impressed (they weren't the only ones really)...

Well kids think of all the celestial points* you're getting???

"Not if you could read my thoughts. Mom" Alex says through clinched teeth..... :) :):)
(*no such thing...A story only Grant could explain...something about home teaching Bro. B as a teenager)

Then Sunday morning Superman's cape fell off...he, exhausted didn't make it to Church.... But I was less than understanding....I was angry



Rewind....

Friday, I spent a day visiting with a dear friend. Something my weary soul needed more than I realized. She's one person, that sees right through my happy crafts and slightly inappropriate humour and seems to know how sad and overwhelmed my heart is right now. She knows everything about me and my crazy family and loves us anyways, weird (my biggest fear is that if people really knew us/our heart aches, they would leave)....For the first time I acknowledged to her how much I was still grieving and how much I am still overwhelmed by a husbands illness and my crazy life....no explaining, no judgement....She just heard me and made me laugh and pointed out my blessings....I am thankful every day for the wonderful friends like her.

Back to Sunday....

Have you every found yourself in a place where EVERYTHING makes you angry??? It's something someone said at Church, the kids didn't do the dishes, your son's been picked on at school...on and on and on...   For me its been building for weeks and months. Sure I have plenty of justifiable reasons...heck its the stage of grief I'm in (if you believe in charts)...But Sunday my anger erupted...What started out as a discussion about, I don't even remember, turned into a screaming match and then my Superman said something...

"Robin, you are just so angry!!!"

"Of course I am!!!!

"But Robin you are angry at the WRONG things and people."

I so did not want to hear what he had to say, heck, he's up at the top of my list.....

"It's not Sister so and so at Church or the kids or even me ..."

"Just admit it...you hate that your Dad died... heck you still hate the fact that your mom died the way she did! You are even angry that I'm sick?!?" "That's what you're really angry about...Stop finding everything else to blame the anger on and deal with what you are ACTUALLY angry about....."

OUCH!!! Oh. No. He. Didn't!!!!

My brain was ready to articulate at the top of my lungs how wrong he was, but...I went into the ugly cry. There was truth in what he had to say and my heart heard it.... {Superman redeemed himself slightly, as he hugged me and just let me cry}

Anger...damn you.

There is no magical switch...I'm still angry but its really the grief, loss and heartache and not that my kids destroyed the kitchen to make sugar cookies (sigh)...

I will be forever grateful for friends that listen, a slightly crazy super hero husband that still knows and loves me best and for do-overs every day....








Thursday, December 6, 2012

Random Acts of Christmas....

Last Christmas we focused on Gratitude and had all the kids fill a box with all the things we were grateful for...(Well don't we just sound like the perfect family)...

This Christmas We (I) decided we should focus our Christmas on others. I've been  feeling pretty down, sad, unexcited for Christmas this year and desperately needed to focus my thoughts and feelings elsewhere...So, here's what we came up with.  We are calling it our " random acts of kindness Christmas". Each day in December we are thinking of something we can do for someone. Nothing huge or major or expensive, just something to let someone else know they are loved...(again, with the perfect family, if people only knew (eye roll))

So far here is what we've done:

1. Gave a family the opportunity to go skating on us.

2. Delivered chocolates to our friends/neighbours.



3. Dropped off the Reindeer version of  a "Don't Eat Pete" game to a family of adorable little girls.


4. Gave a hand made Christmas ornament to an elderly neighbour.



5. Surprised someone on their birthday with a cupcake and a homemade gift.


6. And today the kids  taped baggies with change inside,  to bus stops with a note that says Merry Christmas, ride the bus on us...

 
Our lives are still as crazy as ever (why am I always surprised?)...but it has been great to have something to focus on.... And fun to see how creative my kids are...I wonder what we'll do tomorrow???
 
We will keep you posted.
 
 
 


Tuesday, December 4, 2012

Math Miracles :)



I have to admit I rolled my eyes, when I saw another email from my Calculus genius' teacher yesterday (I know bad parent)

To my pleasant surprise....


Hi,

I just wanted to say how pleased I am with(Calculus genius's ) math mark since she has been doing her practice. She has been using her marine bio class to get some of the assignments done. This new focus has really been reflected in her recent test and quizzes which have averaged at a B.


Well I'll be...she can be taught ;) 37% to B's (a miracle for sure)


I can take no credit here, we didn't even punish her other than a "you-know-you-can-do-better-you-have-to-do-the-work-to-pass-the-class" lecture. I guess in non-life-threatening situations I am a let them figure it out for themselves and reap the rewards or consequences.... kind of parent.

 My offspring finally decided to just do the work.

In this case my lazy parenting worked out. :)

{Just so you know I am so not the kind of parent I thought I'd be. When they were toddlers, I thought I'd be an organized, overly-involved, doting mother of teenagers...But life and my kids quickly taught me that was not the kind of parent I was or they needed}

Way to go my little calculus genius !!!!

Monday, December 3, 2012

Going Thru The Motions



I swore I was going to take this week off from Church ... I didn't really feel I had it in me to go. It's been a really difficult couple of days as I've watched my Superman struggle for stability in the midst of disappointment. He is only human, to most this disappointment would be a normal bump in the road.... no big deal.

But for him, it sent him spiraling down..He is so so hard on himself.....Only with years of experiences have I come to understand how quickly things can change for him, we can go from okay to life-threatening in hours. The worry (especially for me )is exhausting...We know what  works to stabilize him, and get help quickly,  but there is always the thought, what if this doesn`t work and we end up in full relapse again....


I spent Thursday and Friday just praying and going through the motions...I wish I could scream it from the roof top, Hey we're not ok over here...But instead I just told people we were fine, ignored the phone, told the home teachers, we were busy, cancelled anything I could and tried to pretend I didn't hate the power of an illness....

 For me, when things are rough, even the slightest negative critique or criticism of how I handle my Superman or family or personal life can feel ten fold and I just didn't want to pretend or add to my burden...so I just wasn't going today...


Well, guilt won out this morning...plus I would miss my awesome friends (yes I'm still a teenager)...AND it was testimony meeting and that NEVER disappoints in our Ward`:) Yes I`m going to hell for that statement and somehow I am just fine with that....

I knew it was going to be an AWESOME day (I`m serious) the minute a nameless sister, whose mission it is to get me to crack up while conducting, succeed in the first line of the opening hymn...a new record...

And no testimony meeting did not disappoint....


Don't get your knickers in a twist (anything British always makes me chuckle) this sister had a wonderful point about the up coming Christmas season, and not getting too stressed out . This really applies to me too, especially after this week.

Flying and drinking, never ever mix. (okay, not sure the explanation here...I had a hard time paying attention to the rest...)


The minute I get comfortable the Lord moves me to where I need to GROW. (This was said by a visitor today and really struck a chord with me, so so true)

See, Superman I actually listen, sometimes ;)




So I was still very much, going through the motions today and trying to do the best... I was surprised that I still got something out of Church....I felt loved by my friends (even without them knowing my burden) I felt a quiet sense of courage to keep trying and moving forward (even though, just give up was in my mind for days)

 And today....That was enough for me



Sunday, December 2, 2012

Over Movember

Movember (men growing moustaches to raise money for male cancers)....I think Grant saw it as an excuse to be lazy .... I forgot how quickly Superman can turn into my mountain man ....
 
He decided on the full beard, cause somebody told him he looked like a {some kind of} star, with just moustache ...I think he looked dashing, but he thought all the gray just made him look old (we are old, well according to our children)...
 
So Saturday morning off with the beard ....Farewell my mountain man.'til next movember :)

Tuesday, November 27, 2012

Care Center Carols

I walked into a nursing home tonight ....the first time since  my final good byes with my Dad, 7 months ago...I hadn't really donned on me until I hit the front entrance, which is a good thing or I probably would not have even gone...Our Relief Society Christmas activity was singing at a local seniors care center... 

It was overwhelming at first, the sounds, the smells, the faces...I fought back tears and the urge to run. Such difficult memories, both parents lives ended in such facilities....Add the Christmas carols my parents loved and...I knew Christmas time would be hard this year, but I was even surprised at my early wave of emotion...Who the heck cries at Frosty the Snowman?!? (I remember my Dad playing that for us on the guitar)

But then I started noticing something...

A woman named Jodi (activity director, I'm guessing) who welcomed us to the facility and showed us into the room where the seniors were waiting...

For the entire hour, Jodi was so tender, so kind as she floated around the room singing along to our caroles and graciously adjusting a blanket, wiping a chin, hugging a shoulder, grabbing a tissue or exchanging a smile with each resident...This wasn't just a job for her but something she deeply, deeply loved, you could just tell. It wasn't for show, it was just who she was. She loved those residents and they loved her..My heart was so touched, it brings tears even as I type...

Maybe, it's that I carry a burden of guilt, that we could not care for our parents ourselves . Even though I know putting them in care was our only option, its still a choice I wish we never had to make...I'm sure most families feel that way...

So tonight I think I was so touched by Jodi's sincere and selfless actions because I was reminded that although my parents' care was not a choice I wanted, there were still loving people who tenderly watched over and cared for them, when I couldn't... Something I hadn't appreciated before.

Tonight was a beautiful reminder that we have a loving Heavenly Father who tenderly watches over us but meets our needs through those around us.

Thank you Jodi and all the "Jodi's" out there who lovingly adjust a blanket, wipe a tear, bring a smile....  Its really what Christmas is all about, isn't it?

 ....Inasmuch as ye have done it unto one of the least of these my brethren, ye have done it unto me.

Matthew 25:40

I miss my Mom and Dad. This Christmas time will bring very tender feelings but, I am grateful for this time to reflect on how loved and blessed we Krazy Kramers are.

Sunday, November 25, 2012

Alex and Kramer Family Antics :)

Our baby girl turned FOURTEEN yesterday...(no I am not old enough to have almost 5 teenagers). It was a Saturday and everybody had the day off....an oddity around here. So we gave Jo (Alex) her pick of what she wanted to do...Twilight and some shopping in Nanaimo...Superman was way more thrilled than me :)

Plus it was our maiden voyage in our new ride. Yes it fits everybody although they still fight over seats (sigh) and the DVD system keeps everyone silent entertained.

I can't remember the last time we were all out together, in public....We learned a few things...

*People are still shocked...yes they are all ours, yes we are too young to have this many teenagers, and yes it is like feeding an army :)

*If you sleep through the middle part of Twilight you still "get " the movie. (sorry my Twi-hards)

*Leggings/Tights ARE NOT pants people

*6 hours and 34 minutes...the point at which "family fun times" hits its terminal velocity and Grant and I aren't speaking and the kids are "looking at each other" (note above picture, Alex is the only one smiling at Boston Pizza

*My idea of choose one thing each in Old Navy and Superman's but I love my children more turned into a $300 difference

*Dallyn has some sick Spidey senses when fighting over mints with his sisters .

Kramer Family Togetherness at it's finest :)


Alex is now a make-up wearing, ipod sporting, attitude waving, true blue fourteen year old (heaven help me)


My favourite thing she does...Anytime superman is at the door or on the phone....Alex makes bird noises from the basement....Imagine, Just as the pizza guy hands Grant the pizza, there is a ear piercing "Ca CAAAA!!!" from down stairs....It. is AWESOME.

Alex you are a keeper. We love you!!!! Happy Birthday!!!!



Warning don't read this part.....

Dallyn gets in an argument with an un-named sister tonight....

"I think it's time to change your pad!?!" I hear Dallyn scream mid-match


DALLYN!!!! I yell, but can't stop laughing as I try my darndest to scold my disrespectful man child....

Mom!?! Who's side are you on!!!! (I don't know, who ever is funniest??)








Thursday, November 22, 2012

Come on...We've Been Good?

Ever have one of those weeks when you are like...

Come On, Really?!?! Why now?... I've been good, dosen`t that count for anything??

I haven't been screaming at my kids (much).

I only swore once...Cutting a rosebush down in the wind is not just stupid, but painful ;)

I have literally dejunked and cleaned the entire house (minus my filing cabinet...4 years...it can wait...I can still close it)

Family Home Evening happened,well kinda, we were all in the same room for 17 minutes...

We even had family prayer (a couple of times, still counts doesn't it??)

But no matter how much we try. the fact is still the same, Our Superman's struggles sometimes...I can see it in his face, hear it in his voice, it breaks my heart. You see, even with all the understanding, all the patience, all the years of experience....there is still a little piece of both our hearts that hopes. Hopes the illness will just disappear. One day when we are good enough, faithful enough, it will be gone...But that is not how it works. This is something we will cope with for the rest of Superman's life. we have accepted that. No I do not feel picked upon. No it I'm not angry But it is still hard sometimes...

When these difficult weeks come, there are tears of disappointment and worry.

Superman's way better now at allowing people in to help, tender mercies...We have wonderful friends and doctors. The rough times are short lived. But my heart has ached and ached this week, I don't know why this tiny setback has hurt so much this time, but it has..

I didn't show up for parent teacher interviews today...I just couldn't add one more thing to my emotional plate.... (Let me guess Dallyn, talks too much and won't sit still...and another one of my scholars sucks at calculus...shocking)...I have ignored the phone...It's just my sucky coping strategy

I guess my biggest fear through all of this is not that we can't handle it.We can, because we have....It is that people will give up on Grant, lose their patience with him, judge his setback as a lack of faith or guilt or because he in their eyes, just hasn't tried hard enough...

But it's not up to me to make people understand or accept our family, now is it.

So just in case you didn't know the Krazy Kramer motto...

Be kind, loving and understanding or get the HECK out of our way (we're moving forward)...please and thank you :)

EXTRA Hugs and prayers kindly accepted this week...

and thank you to all those who continually love us , krazy and all.






Farewell Loser Cruiser

 
 
So after countless family drives, ferry trips, beach days, temple trips, youth dances, dump runs, Elder's Quorum moves, Costco shop outs and school events we have officially retired the Loser Cruiser this week....It was time. She still has tons of life left in her, but our family needed something more practical. So we are hoping to pass her on.
 
I was actually a little sad as we turned the licence plates in...There are tons of great memories tied to that van....

 
 
The fact that Dallyn could never stay awake in it.
 
The fact that our pre teens were horrified when we pulled it in the drive way the first time and made us drop them off a block away from school.
 
The fact that we participated in every youth function for the last 6 or 7 years.
 
The first time Grant drove it to work, and somebody said "What did you go and buy a big Mormon Van for??? "Because I is one!?!" Grant replied with a twinkle in his eye. To a suddenly sleepless co-worker sheepish co worker.
 
The fact that it never broke down, except once in our driveway.
 
So beyond reliable, we truly loved her.
 
But...It was time.
 
 
We now own this "yet to be named" Dodge Grand Caravan...Isn't she practically pretty?
 
Still a van, but I guess no more "Mormon Van" jokes. And Grant said NO, to putting the bumper sticker on the back that says "Condoms prevent mini-vans" Dang-it!
I guess...Superman doesn't share my sense of humour :)
 
So a fond farewell "Loser Cruiser" we will miss you! (maybe?)


 

Tuesday, November 20, 2012

Awesome Parent=Awesome Kids

So I have come to realization that our "awesome" parenting is being completely lost on our "awesome" kids....

Last night, Grant and I walk in the door from HIS unsupervised car dealership expedition (next blog post)...

Mom its report card day, Dallyn announces as all his female siblings groan and give him death glares....

So a certain daughter chimes in "So like yeah, there was a problem with the printer at school and like yeah they can't print my report card for a few weeks..."

"Cough it up, now" Grant and I say in unison...

37% (pre- calculus) ... Did you even show up??? " I think you have to try to get that, don't you? Well... At least you don't suck in Foods!?! Was the only thing my genius brain had at the moment oh and a "trust me, there will consequences..."

Well...

10 minutes after that, while I'm on the phone catching up with my amazing SIL and my children are up stairs, rough housing, sounding like they are killing a herd of cats... Dallyn comes running down the stairs...as I try to shut the door before he bothers me I hear "Pretty sure, she will need stitches..." (referring to the genius that sucks at calculus) "Mom do you want to see it...No, Grant just take her in...I know I suck, but watching my kids bleed makes me sick and I hadn't talked to my SIL in forever :) Apparently the ER was dead and Superman and off spring sporting two stitches, were back in less than an hour...Minor for a Kramer...

Consequences...

So here is were my parental awesomeness comes in...

Trying to come up with suitable consequence for my calculus-sucking, stitched-up offspring..."aren't stitches enough, Mom" Nice try, but one had nothing to do with the other. Now if the stitches came from falling out of your desk, while studying for your Calculus exam?!? well maybe... But that is not the case.

I could take away her phone...

Screen time...

Social Life...

Electricity...

But in all my awesomeness and inability to decide which is most suitable...I did what all awesome parents do...

Said child now has 24 hours to come up with her consequence....

Honestly, they come up with way tougher things than I do...so we will see how she chooses to redeem her AWESOMENESS.









Sunday, November 18, 2012

I Was Not Sent Here To Fail...

My biggest fear in life ( minus upside down carnival rides and eating fish ) is one day waking up with realization that I have become my mother ... Maybe that is a dishonour to her life, but it's really something I fear...

Sure I can list hundreds of wonderful things about her ...gifted pianist and teacher...seamstress extraordinaire ...impeccable penmanship ... Traveller .... An eye for detail....


But some of the realities of her life can really haunt me.

Kelli and I have memories and experiences no one should...

We had popcorn for dinner, not because there wasn't money to buy food, but because my mom couldn't/ wouldn't handle being in a grocery store, the fact that there wasn't a clean dish or surface in our kitchen didn't really help either...

We had to pick through the mountain of dirty laundry in the garage often to find "suitable"  clothing for school. Yup, the smelly kids and the fact that we went to an affluent elementary school made the fact even more obvious.

We were the last ones picked up from daycare or left home alone unsupervised for hours and hours. As a very young child I remember praying my heart out that she would just be safe and come home.

We were over indulged in other ways.  we had every toy, game and activity imaginable, but when it came to basic necessities...affection, clean anything, meals.... Mom, just couldn't get off that damn brown love seat in the family room. There was something very very therapeutic about putting that couch in the dumpster last month.



It's been such a weird week for me. Full of blessings and answers to prayers... A final piece from Mom's life settled, nearly nine years after her death, a story for another day. But with that, memories long tucked away surfacing.... I hate how grief works....

A lingering question on repeat..."Will my life resemble hers?"

I have days when I am overwhelmed and struggle to put dinner on the table or can't find the energy to deal with my mountain of laundry. Days where dealing with teenagers or a husband's illness make me angry and bitter and I have to remind myself to hug my disgruntled teen or hurting husband...Am I losing my empathy, like she did??? Does that mean I'm sliding closer and closer to her level of destruction/dysfunction??

I hate to admit how much I have struggled since getting back from California...I can't lie...the last 4 weeks I have just gone through the motions (rather unsuccessful-like) of being that "perfect wife",  that "mother of the year", that "molly Mormon" ... `You`re just morphing into her` my mind tells me....

Then today..Oh Sunday's?!?  Sundays are a struggle...not always, but today? Well yes, Sundays can sometimes bring out the worst of grief, heartache, illness and trials....Not because of guilt or lack of testimony...But because are hearts are tender and  emotions run so close to the surface. I have to admit my heart was less than patient when the Superman struggled to get to bishopric this morning...But felt relief as he walked out the door...

Superman's heart is aching right now too...battling bipolar is a constant fight. His illness doesn't know vacation....

Sundays can be hard for him too..

The people that know the strength, the courage it takes my Superman to sit on the stand, fighting an illness that screams at him "you are worthless, nobody cares about you, you will never measure up. why even bother" show my Grant great compassion and understanding ... For that I am forever grateful.

I know some just don't know his struggle and therefore are unknowingly unkind or less than patient. When I see Grant struggle with those hurts, its hard for me to watch...especially when it took to make it in the building...

As we started Sacrament Meeting I was beyond overwhelmed, having a hard time keeping my weeks worth of emotions...which rather sucks when you are leading the music...Why did I even bother to come?"

We then sang the opening hymn I picked weeks ago...


In ev’ry condition—in sickness, in health,
In poverty’s vale or abounding in wealth,
At home or abroad, on the land or the sea—
As thy days may demand, as thy days may demand,
As thy days may demand, so thy succor shall be.


 Fear not, I am with thee; oh, be not dismayed,
For I am thy God and will still give thee aid.
I’ll strengthen thee, help thee, and cause thee to stand,
Upheld by my righteous, upheld by my righteous,
Upheld by my righteous, omnipotent hand.

When through the deep waters I call thee to go,
The rivers of sorrow shall not thee o’erflow,
For I will be with thee, thy troubles to bless,
And sanctify to thee, and sanctify to thee,
And sanctify to thee thy deepest distress
.
 
 
Those lyrics get me every. single. time. I really needed the reminder
 
Our Heavenly Father will not leave us alone in our hurt or heartache. Our heavenly father`s comfort has no time limit... Nine days or nine years his desire to comfort and bless never changes. He knows the strength and courage it takes to do what we do because he is the one who gave it to us. Trials are not a gauntlet to be survived...but the refirner`s fire...
 
My answers to why will probably not come in this lifetime. But I know this...I will not become my mother, unless I choose to. Those feelings of discouragement or worthlessness do not come from a loving Heavenly Father, but from someone who would love to see me fail...
 
 I was not sent here to fail.... my Superman was not sent here to fail and neither were you.
 
 
 
A good friend, who knows whereof he speaks, has observed of trials, ‘If it’s fair, it is not a true trial!’ That is, without the added presence of some inexplicableness and some irony and injustice, the experience may not stretch us or lift us sufficiently. .....”
—Neal A. Maxwell, All These Things Shall Give Thee Experience (1980), 31
“No pain that we suffer, no trial that we experience is wasted. It ministers to our education, to the development of such qualities as patience, faith, fortitude and humility. All that we suffer and all that we endure, especially when we endure it patiently, builds up our characters, purifies our hearts, expands our souls, and makes us more tender and charitable, more worthy to be called the children of God … and it is through sorrow and suffering, toil and tribulation, that we gain the education that we come here to acquire and which will make us more like our Father and Mother in heaven.”
—Orson F. Whitney, quoted by Spencer W. Kimball, in Faith Precedes the Miracle (1972), 98
 
“The healing power of the Lord Jesus Christ—whether it removes our burdens or strengthens us to endure and live with them like the Apostle Paul—is available for every affliction in mortality.”
—Dallin H. Oaks, “He Heals the Heavy Laden,” Ensign, Nov. 2006, 5–6
 
 
 
 
 

Saturday, November 17, 2012

Smart Man :)

Tonight the Superman comes home from work with the following....
Flowers , Chocolate and Tampons....
 
Oh how sweet honey...
"I figured, if you needed tampons, I'd better bring home flowers and chocolate, just to be SAFE :)" Super says with only a slight smirk.
 
He's a smarter man than I give him credit for.
 
Thanks for the flowers, oh wise one.
 
 

Thursday, November 15, 2012

Retail Therapy

We now own a leaf blower and a Star Wars Lego "space ship" thing....and I was even supervising my Superhero at Costco.

If you think the leaf blower is for my Superman and the Lego is for the twelve year old, then you would be.... WRONG!

The Lego is for Grant, yes my almost 40 something husband bought Lego for himself.  And the leaf blower is apparently for the man child.

My cruel, cruel husband picks up Dallyn from Young Men's last night after his amazing Costco expedition....

Dallyn: Wow! Dad!!! you bought me Lego!?!

Superman: Nope...

Dallyn:You bought me a leaf blower?!?

Superman: Yup!

Dallyn: GrEaT!!!

Superman: It will be fun, not so much raking :)

Dallyn: AwEsOmE, Dad?!?


The leaf blower is bigger than the boy....lets hope the Superman at least shares the Lego???

I think we will be staying out of Costco for a while :)

Monday, November 12, 2012

Welcome Home, My Friend

James came home !!!! It's been a long journey, but he did it! True triumph.
We have learned so much from James and his family over the last ten months....
 
The power of a family's love.
The patience of a loving mother.
The influence of the Holy Ghost to comfort and sustain.
The strength of the human spirit.
The miracles of modern medicine.
The power of fasting and prayer.
The joy of celebrating even the smallest of victories.
 
 
 
The learning and victories continue, but now at home, together....It's been a humbling privilege to witness this journey and we knew that James' homecoming was one to celebrate....
  So we did it in the only way us crazy Mormons now how to partay....ICE CREAM!!!  and Chocolate Cake!
 
Thank you to everyone who came out and partied on.
And most of all...
WELCOME HOME JAMES!!!!

Sunday, November 11, 2012

Lest We Forget

Today our family remembers....
 
Grandpa Wendell
 
 
Grandpa Merrill served in World War One in the Medical Corps.
 
Uncle Bill (Dad's oldest brother)
 
 Uncle Bill served in World War Two, in the Air Corps
 
As a bombardier he flew missions over China
 
 
Uncle Pete (Dad's 2nd Brother)
 
 
 Uncle Pete was a Marine in World War Two, serving in the South Pacific and China
 
Dad and Uncle Bob.
 
 
All five of the Merrill Brothers would eventually serve their country...Something that had been instilled in them since childhood.
Christmas 1942 Logan  (L-R Bob, John, Pete, Les, Bill)
 
I am honoured and humbled by my Merrill legacy.
 
From my Grandma Beena's journal.....

“My five sons were all in the service of our country. Bill in the Air Force and flew many missions over China. Peter was in the Marines and served in the South Pacific. John in the Army and served in the far north, Hudson’s Bay. Les served in Germany, Bob served for three years, also in Germany. They were all spared and returned home safely another reason for my gratitude.”
 
 
Today I too add my gratitude for all those who serve and have served their countries...
 
We will remember.
 
 

Saturday, November 10, 2012

Trusting Forgiveness



Death, illness, moving, job change, facing fears.....

With all that's happened in our lives this last year, some would be surprised to learn that my greatest hurt/heartache (the one that caused the most damage to my heart and soul) was none of those things....

The deepest hurt: someone choose a public manner to attack and humiliate my husband/ family...a complete over reaction to a minor misunderstanding. It devastated us and its timing couldn't have been worse as Grant was still not stabilized from his relapse. It was horrible.

No apologies, told to get a thicker skin and just move on....

I felt deserted and alone with the damage the hurt had caused .... Months and months I have worked on forgiveness, it has only been the last month or so I could see the person and not cry....I was finally at forgiveness.

Then, I was asked to participate in an activity, I was excited to do so...I then realized this activity would require extended direct interaction with the person.... I said no.


I was so mad at myself for not having more courage. Grow up! I was so, so hard on myself. Maybe I hadn't forgiven, like I thought I had.

Then the the thought " Forgiveness is NOT trust, Robin"

I had always thought forgiveness and trust were one in the same....Not true.

So here is what I have come to understand:

We are expected to forgive freely.

I, the Lord, will forgive whom I will forgive, but of you it is required to forgive all men.D&C 64:10

In fact, if there are conditions attached to forgiveness, its not forgiveness.

But trust, Trust is not a requirement of forgiveness.

Trust is a valuable possession that is earned. Once broken it becomes of even greater value and is not always restored to its original state.

We can wish someone well, pray for them, and even want blessings in their lives. But from a far, without putting ourselves or our  in harms way.Coming to understand that difference has helped me be a little more patient with myself.

Grateful for the lesson.

Friday, November 9, 2012

Out Numbered!

My husband just left me. For the weekend. He's headed somewhere in Alberta to pick up bison with his (our) farmer friend. Well at least that's the story they've told the wives. ;).....It's been a long time since he's been able to do something like this and I'm glad to see him go (it's only 3 days) plus it means....

I don't have to (think about) cook(ing).

Kids? What kids??...There is this unspoken, deeply understood rule: You don't bug me, I don't bug (ask you to clean) you

Pajama pants and hoodies are perfectly fine to grocery shop in (it's Wal-Mart, Superman's coworkers wouldn't rat me out would they?)

All the pillows I want, no snoring and  no misunderstanding over my inability to share a comforter :)

I can watch all the Dance Moms and Honey Boo Boo I want without a lecture on the trash on tv , from the guy who watches(maybe) walking dead and family guy :)

I do have one little goal: I will not YELL at my kids the ENTIRE time super's gone.... my kids have little faith, they've already placed bets on how long I last....I'm good 'til like 5 today...But I'm betting on duct tape and ear plugs after that :) (them or me, doesn't matter )

Should be an awesome weekend, I'll keep ya'll posted :)

Wednesday, November 7, 2012

Fashion Freakout

 
Monday night, {totally instead of FHE ;) , NOT!!! } Superman and I attended the Grad fashion show at the kids high school. Bailey graduates this year. She had worked hard on the sets for the show and wanted to show off her efforts....The show was impressive from the sets to the staging to the choreography....But...Half way through the first act...My jaw dropped as a group of students came out modeling , what I would consider as burlesque. I couldn't even watch. I was horrified for these girls. Then I was saddened, angry and so disappointed....
 
So here is the letter I sent to the Principal, two vices and the superintendent....
 
 
Tuesday, November 6, 2012
 Dear JT, principal

SR vice principal

GF, vice principal

 SE, superintendent

As a parent of three current students and another daughter who is a Grad of {high school}, I feel compelled to voice my concerns after last night’s 2013 Grad Fashion Show.

The fashion choices modeled by your students from the retailer J***** Clothing, who sponsored that portion of the show, not only demeaned but sexualized the students who wore them and were completely inappropriate for a school sponsored event, even more so because children and families were present

Where are boundaries and guidelines to keep our youth dignified and safe??? If not in our public schools, where? Are we afraid to hold our youth to the higher standard they deserve???

For an event that was so well presented in every other aspect. Sets, staging, choreography, food vendors….Why was the ball dropped here? This is not an issue of censorship, but one of safety, one of dignity.


I am saddened and disappointed by this event and expect that my concerns will be addressed quickly.

Thank you,

Mrs Robin L Kramer
This is the response I received from the principal this morning....
 
Hello Robin, and thank-you for bringing your concern to me.
I did some research yesterday on the procedures we use for the fashion show. Specifically, I looked into:
· How are clothing vendors selected?
· Who decides what clothes are worn during the show?
· Who provides coaching in how to conduct the walk?
· What are the safeguards to ensure inappropriate behaviour doesn’t take place?
As a result of this research, I learned that there are safeguards in place to ensure students do not engage in undesirable behaviour, including two rehearsals. These are not dress rehearsals, however, as the stores want our students to spend a minimum amount of time in their clothing. As for the fashion choice, I learned that this is negotiated between the student and the store. For the most part, the student picks something they want to wear, and the store agrees or disagrees with the choice. I learned that in a few cases, students wore clothing they did* want to wear, but this was not the case with J#####.
In the rehearsals, the student performance was within our guidelines. During the actual show, we saw two instances of the unexpected, and some unscripted performances were stopped before they could get on stage.
I deeply regret that you were offended by the clothing worn by some of our students. It has gone into our planning notes, and we inspect our clothing with a closer eye to this in the future. As you can appreciate, it is not always easy to see how a garment will look on a student when we examine it on a hanger, but we will make a better effort for next year. We want a show that everyone can enjoy.
 
**** I believe it should read didn't, and have asked for a clarification.
Alrighty then...Pretty much the response I expected. I respectfully disagree that there are appropriate safeguards in place...There are not. The school could and should do more to protect its students ....No Dress Rehearsal?? It's a FASHION show!?! .... "It's not always easy to see how a garment will look on a student when examined on a hanger"? A satin and lace bustier and black leather pants with zippers, buckles and chains...call me a Molly Mormon...but pretty sure that looks just as inappropriate on the hanger as on the student (please)
 
Oh great I've turned into that SOAP BOX parent again.
 
 

Tuesday, November 6, 2012

Happy Election Day, Merrills :)

As always, I will keep my political views to myself, but in honour of election day......
 
My Grandpa Wendell...The dentist and the Democrat...
 
 
I never knew my Grandpa Wendell (my Dad's father) he died a few years before I was born. But politics were everything to him and from all accounts he was quite the character about it....He served in the medical corps in WWI, His dental office was above the Zion's National Bank in downtown Logan. He was quite the oddity as a die-hard Democrat in Utah. He ran for mayor of Logan and for the State Legislature....but I know very little else about his dental/political career.
 
I found this card in my Dad's things (I'm guessing it's from the 1950"s)....
 
 
 
And from a google search,  a quote from him after an earthquake hit Logan.... 
 
From the Logan Herald Journal August 30, 1962.....
"Despite some damage in the Hotel, the Democratic headquarters (in a second-floor hotel room) remain unscathed and intact," Dr. W. W. Merrill informed us, with some humor and considerable satisfaction.(Dr. Merrill, as many citizens know, is one of the County's Demo party bellweathers.)
 
{COMMENTS FOLLOWING TODAY'S EARTHQUAKE
Thoughts And Things
By Ray Nelson
Miscellaneous observations during and after the earthquake,

which visited Cache Valley at 6:36 a.m., August 30, 1962 A.D.--}

I didn't know him but that's defiantly the Merrill humour shining through.:)

Might explain why my Dad was so politically minded and also a die hard democrat....I guess it was in his genes.... My mother was a stanch republican, which might explain why things couldn't work for them in this life time ;) Let's just say politics were a touchy subject growing up....but Politics and Country were always important...


He loved this shirt , especially when wearing it with pride in predominately red States :)


Regardless of who wins today....I can just imagine the discussion in heaven tomorrow with all those Merrills.....Happy Election Day, Dad!